Monday, September 21, 2009

Ir-Rummiena - 'Pomegranate'

The pomegranate 'ir-Rummiena' is native to the region of Persia and has been cultivated in Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Mediterranean region for several millennia.

A widespread root for "pomegranate" comes from the Ancient Egyptian rmn, from which derive the Hebrew rimmôn, and Arabic rummân. This root was given by Arabs to other languages, including Portuguese (romã), Kabyle rrumman and Maltese "rummien". The pomegranate ('rimmôn') is mentioned in the Bible as one of the seven fruits/plants that Israel was blessed with, and in Hebrew, 'rimmôn' is also the name of the weapon now called the grenade. According to Webster's New Spanish-English Dictionary, "granada," the Spanish word for "pomegranate," could also mean "grenade.

Culinary use

After opening the pomegranate by scoring it with a knife and breaking it open, the arils (seed casings) are separated from the peel and internal white pulp membranes. Separating the red arils is simplified by performing this task in a bowl of water, wherein arils sink and pulp floats. It is also possible to freeze the whole fruit in the freezer, making the red arils easy to separate from the white pulp membranes. The entire seed is consumed raw, though the watery, tasty aril is the desired part. The taste differs depending on subspecies of pomegranate and its ripeness. The pomegranate juice can be very sweet or sour, but most fruits are moderate in taste, with sour notes from the acidic tannins contained in the aril juice.

Wild pomegranate seeds are sometimes used as a spice known as anardana (which literally means pomegranate (anar) seeds (dana) in Persian), most notably in Indian and Pakistani cuisine but also as a replacement for pomegranate syrup in Middle Eastern cuisine. As a result of this, the dried whole seeds can often be obtained in ethnic Indian Sub-continent markets. The seeds are separated from the flesh, dried for 10–15 days and used as an acidic agent for chutney and curry production. Seeds may also be ground in order to avoid becoming stuck in teeth when eating dishes containing them. Seeds of the wild pomegranate daru from the Himalayas are regarded as quality sources for this spice.


Suki said...

This reminds me of my dear grandmother, God bless her soul, who used to bring us siblings a bag full of pomegranates collected from her garden at this time of year. I loved peeling the fruit - and looking at the intricate design of the fruit inside. However it took me so long to eat a whole fruit with the spitting of all those tiny seeds.

Juniper said...

Very interesting post! I would never have imagined you could freeze it! I will certainly try separating the seeds in water when we buy our first one of the season.
I used to make a salad, maybe the recipe is Turkish but it has parsley, pomegranate seeds,chopped walnuts and green olives, it sounds a little strange but is one of my all time favourite. It also uses a pomegranate syrup. Do you ever use it here? I think it is commonly used in the middle east. Often mixed in with ground lamb or as part or a marinade for poultry.
In Wisconsin you would find them in grocery stores in late November for just a few weeks (no idea where they were from) , this always overlapped with my birthday and so I connect it with a changing of age and of winters arrival. Also with that Greek story, the daughter who is stolen by Hades from the underworld, and while there she ate only four pomegranate seeds which causes is the reason for the four months of winter.

Dina said...

Shalom Dina, from the other Dina. :)
What a great post. I learned so much.

I posted about the RIMON a few days ago, but about the religious symbolism. We eat them for the new year.

laetitia said...

Yummy!!! I love this fruit!

A moroccan lady once told me the easiest way to take out the seeds is by cutting the pomegranate in half widthways, then while holding the halved pomegranate face down in your hand over a bowl, you tap it slightly with a spoon and the seeds fall out. A bit messy but easier than peeling it bit by bit.